Leftside: wavin’ on the breeze

wavin' on the breeze - mua here to stay may day 1998
'wavin' on the breeze' by jim sharp - mua here to stay!: May Day 1998

Book Launch of jim sharp’s book of poems, ‘leftside’

Saturday 31st Jul at 3:00- 5:00pm
TLC Building 16 Peel St., South Brisbane.

talks by Humphrey McQueen and Craig Buckley (meatworkers union) music by Jumping Fences and poetry reading Ross Clark
See you then!

Whetting his expressiveness on the everyday, as in “the waitress”, Jim recognises a significance in what appears to be little more than alienated labour. His own translation from illiteracy into art speaks to his trust that all of life might be transformed through the self-emancipation of his class.’ – Humphrey McQueen
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He’s made a pen of his boning knife and set about eviscerating cant and claptrap. All that accumulated experience, learning, reflecting, sizing up is the muscle behind that blade filleting the body politic, hauling its carcass up on his butcher’s hook; ‘upside down power! wi trickle down-sizin’/and a billion starving people”.’ – Ray Hearne
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Jim Sharp …:
Thru poetry, I have tried to express my thoughts on me roots in rotherham, my journey to australia, my involvement in the meat industry & the workers’ struggle, the peace, disarmament, indigenous rights, and women’s movement, and the general struggle for socialism.  They also help me to express my feelings and experiences about life and people – friends, lovers, comrades, & family.
Read more.

Purchase this book online:
published by
Ginninderra Press
PO Box 3461
Port Adelaide 5015

Some photos:


Three Poems from Leftside

principles & particulars
there’s alus two sides to every question
and recognisin’ the principles be easy
whilst understandin’ particular particulars
and takin’ the appropriate steps
calls for much collective wisdom.


come! … uncle jim
come here … come here!
and i’ll show you how i dance.

and  wildly she spins
in her girlish excitement
one uninhibited life force
of dance & music within her soul.

handheld tools
…….[man makes the tool & the tool makes the man?]
i remember yesteryear when our hands were tools
where as a bairn earning pocket monies i’d be seen
striding across a farmers spring-prepared field
a seed basket slung over me shoulders
and ever mindful of the strength of the breeze
whilst sowing me hands full of new life
which fell in-waiting for a shower of rain
i remember yesterday’s meatworkers handheld steel tools
and the mechanical chain a monster timed to the second
and the boners’ 48-inches of elbow room work space
where only a well honed knife & our own learnt proficiency
eased away those daily aches & pains, but not
the mind numbing “shit on the liver” complaint!

nevertheless we all aspired to be a gun-boner’sboner
with the ability to grind remake & hone a fine knife’s edge &
steel the steel like a maestro violinist making his stradivarius sing
coz only then can a gun boner make every cut a winner
as well as winning the generous smiles of everyday boners

nowadays in me fag end days my machine driven tool
be my handheld oxford electronic dictionary & thesaurus
on which me fingers dance ever so lightly across the keys
while calling upon what little rudiments one got from schooling
i’m learning to read real deadly stuff & write poetry & all that
‘tis fun not wage labour living to work making words work
whilst rising as a social being studying kinder late
marx’s labour theory of value & all that!

coz after fifty years of wage slavery earning nought but
enuff bread for me & the family
it was our union’s daily democratic tradition which larded
my autodidactic motor mouth with words for occasions
and yet! it’ll take more than my class instincts
for the social continuum to mature
and shud one spruik about that then without class unity
the sack & blacklisting wud be your lot for sure

meanwhile from conception to consumption
farmers sow & reap the matured seeds
truckies truck to feed-lots & then to the abattoirs
where slaughtermen process the cattle &
boners bone & slicers cut the beef into piece meats
followed by the packers doing quality control
packing individual pieces into cryovac bags
thereafter supermarket chains sell to the multitudes
nature & the social means of production

One thought on “Leftside: wavin’ on the breeze

  1. May Day '98 says:

    May Day in Brisbane

    [from Chapter 6: A case study — The 1998 MUA dispute]

    “May Day 1998 in Brisbane was the largest since the days of the Right to March campaigns of more than 20 years earlier. Those anti-Joh May Days were swelled by a huge non-union aligned ‘red contingent’, which over the years has dwindled into near insignificance.

    In 1998, the red contingent had been reinvigorated a little, but the big increase in numbers to 10,000 was from unionists supporting the MUA. Many of these friends of the MUA had given May Day a miss in previous years.

    Unions representing occupations a million kilometres from the wharves linked their fortunes on banners, signs, and floats with the Maritime Union.

    As the thousands slowly swelled Albert Park, news spread that the decision of the Federal Court was being broadcast.

    Mighty roars erupted as Jim Tannock, the MUA official on the May Day platform told of the MUA court victory.

    MUA here to stay

    Smaller pockets of cheers erupted as the news rippled through the march to those in the red contingent still arriving at the park.

    As Tannock thanked everyone for their support in the struggle, his every phrase was greeted with applause, laughter, and cheering. The workers united will never be defeated, M-U-A Here-to-stay. The crowd of ten thousand was as one. As workers gathered around the stage, Jim Tannock took up the cry of victory from the crowd. His speech was a simple recount of the history of the dispute but to the workers it was a mighty shout of defiance.

    The man who would be Premier, Peter Beattie, followed Tannock. Enthusiasm for what Beattie had to say evaporated when it became obvious he was trying to turn the campaign to the advantage of Labor at the upcoming election.

    It was as if the amphitheatre at Albert Park was a balloon, which had been pricked.

    As Beattie prattled, the air of exhilaration escaped. In the background some workers had picked up Tannock, a big man, and tossed him repeatedly in the air. Beattie droned on. Even before he finished, people shuffled off home.

    During the next week MUA members all around the country marched back in through the Patricks gates.” – Bernie Dowling, unionist in After the Waterfront — the workers are quiet

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